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Black Women

Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” Wasn’t For Me… And That’s Okay

Like most of Black Twitter, I was glued to my television set on Saturday for the world premiere of Beyoncé’s Lemonade. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. I was sure that I needed to be somewhere where it was going to be.

My partner made sure of that.

As a fan of music and the visuals that accompany good music, Lemonade took me back to my childhood. It was on par with the days when Michael Jackson premiered videos on network television. It was Must See TV. And, with parents in an entirely different demographic, musically speaking, it was a rare time we got a chance to bond over music as a family.

As a black person, Lemonade was black af. If you aren’t familiar with internet lingo, let me spell it out: Lemonade was black as fuck. Allen Payne in CB4 “I’m black, y’all” black as fuck. Walk down the street with a righteous raised fist in the air black as fuck.

As a black person, Lemonade was black af. If you aren’t familiar with Internet lingo, let me spell it out: Lemonade was black as fuck. Allen Payne in CB4 “I’m black, y’all” black as fuck. Walk down the street with a righteous raised fist in the air black as fuck.

As a man, what Lemonade was not, was for me. I saw a handful of tweets from men about missing the “Cater To You” era Beyoncé, which tells me that some of us aren’t comfortable not being the center of attention. Lemonade is indeed a homage to blackness. More specifically, a one hour tribute to black women and black womanhood. And as our fates are often intertwined, it was, at times, a deserved and long overdue searing indictment of black men and masculinity.

Lemonade was an uncomfortable, edge of my seat, emotional rollercoaster of a watch. With no advance notice of what we’d be witnessing, Beyoncé threw us head first into the storm of a relationship in turmoil: the invading scent of a mistress, the sting of betrayal, and the mischievous smile as the world was introduced to “Hot Sauce.”

In the midst of an endless stream of tweets and memes joking about Jay Z’s (alleged? real?) infidelities, a sense of uneasiness filled my atmosphere. Because if “Young H-O, pitch the yay faithful” was getting aired out on national television, who, among the XY tribe was safe? I hadn’t done anything but search high and low so my partner could have some Ivy Park gear and I was about to start explaining and copping pleas to things I didn’t do. Lemonade was that powerful.

Because if “Young H-O, pitch the yay faithful” was getting aired out on national television, who, among the XY tribe was safe? I hadn’t done anything but search high and low so my partner could have some Ivy Park gear and I was about to start explaining and copping pleas to things I didn’t do. Lemonade was that powerful.

As the hour wore on, it was clear that Lemonade wasn’t a relationship story, it was a life story. I breathed a little easier when I realized we weren’t watching a divorce party in black and white (Serena Williams though!). Smiled a little bigger when I saw Jay Z literally laying at the feet of his superstar wife as many of us metaphorically did the same. That’s what makes “Cater To You” Beyoncé more palatable and less threatening. Lemonade Beyoncé, sans wedding ring, while Mr. Carter dons his, is a reminder that bad behavior costs: no matter how cool you are in the streets, you too can lose it all over a romp with Becky with the good hair.

Rounding the home stretch, I recalled the laundry list length of amazing black women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing: family, teachers, friends and colleagues. Being black in America and having any sort of joy is making lemons out of lemonade. And while black men have made pitchers, our matriarchs taught us the recipe.

Lemonade wasn’t for me. And that’s okay. As the 1962 Malcolm X quote reminds us: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Black women have been making lemonade since we got here. This was for them. Seeing my partner get some joy from that stunning visual album was more than enough for me.

By AJ Springer

AJ Springer is a writer, communications pro, nerd and nomad. Stomping competition is his hobby and job. You can find him on the Internets discussing current events, combat sports, pop culture and the finer points of pro wrestling. When not doing that, he can be found searching for a new home for his written words.